Calories are a measure of the amount of energy in the food that we eat. It’s important to understand what calories are so that we can balance the energy we take in with the energy we use. Doing this is quite useful in leading a healthy weight. In other words, we measure the amount of energy loaded in any item of food in calories in the same way we measure the weight of that item of food in kilograms.
When you are planning to lose weight it is a bright idea to eat less as well as leading an active life. It is very important to eat less when you’re trying to lose weight even if you already have a balanced diet.
Calories for Energy
Food and drink is the source of energy our body requires in order to perform effectively. To maintain a stable weight, the energy we put into our bodies must be the same as the energy we use by normal bodily functions and physical activity. If there are some days where we put in more energy than we use, then there should also be days where the opposite is true, so that overall the energy in and energy used remain balanced.
Weight gain occurs when we regularly put more energy into our bodies than we use. Over time, that excess energy is stored by the body as fat. Research shows that most adults eat and drink more than they need and think that they are more physically active than they are.
Different people use up calories in different ways depending on their age and the activities they do. People who go through intense activity will use up much more calories than those who do less activities. For example, doing fast walking will use more calories than walking at a moderate pace. When people gain weight, it points to the fact that they have been eating and drinking more calories than they use up. To lose weight therefore, you need to achieve a perfect balance between how much you eat and the level of activities that you do. This will require you making healthy choices in terms of your diet and physical activities.
Know the calorie content of what you eat
It’s always useful to know the calorie content of what you eat. This knowledge can help you control what you eat as well as maintaining a healthy weight consistently. Calorie content of almost all foods is nowadays displayed on packaging and learning how to read and understand that is very important. This can help us keep track of the type of food we eat. The calorie content is found on the packaging under the heading of ‘ENERGY’ and is usually given in ‘Kilocalories‘ and ‘Kilojoules‘. Kilocalories is just an alternative word for ‘calorie’. In other words, 1,000 calories will be written as 1,000kcals on packaging.
Most labels will tell you how many calories are contained in 100 grams or 100 millilitres of the food or drink respectively. This can help you compare the calorie content of different foods.
A lot of labels will indicate the calorie content of a ‘portion’ so when you read the label you have to bear in mind that one person’s idea of a portion is not necessarily the same as the next person. In other words, there may sometimes be more calories in the food that you serve yourself depending on the size of your meal or drink. The calorie information is therefore more of a guide than a definitive measure that fits every person equally.
The general guide is that: The average man needs 2,500kcal (10,500kJ) to maintain his weight, and the average woman needs 2,000kcal (8,400kJ).